Saturday, May 31, 2014

AP World Language & Culture: Pre-AP Summer Practice

Good afternoon!

After a two-month break from blogging, I'm back! It's important to maintain a balance between life and work, so that makes blogging a back burner item on the to-do list at times. While it's important to share what we do with other educators so that we can learn from each other, my learners' needs come before the blog. That said, I did write a post for an educator (@eddiekayshun ) in the UK recently. Here's the link if you'd like to see what I have to say about my duty to teach tolerance and global competency:  Who I Am 

Today, I'll share my latest plan for Pre-AP French Language and Culture summer practice. This can be adapted to any world language classroom, so please feel free to make it your own if it could work for your learners. 

Why summer practice? 
For the most part, my students are not required to complete any graded practice outside of the classroom, but they do have to study for assessments and finish tasks that weren't completed in the allotted class time. Even AP learners do most of the learning during class time, however, they do have more outside practice to do because of the looming exam expectations.  The summer before students take the AP course, I choose to require practice because my learners do not have the option to take a fourth year of French BEFORE the AP course. This summer practice simply adds a little extra time for preparation provided that learners pace themselves over the entire summer, of course. 

A Little History on Summer Practice
Over the past four summers, I have asked learners to read a novel (Oscar et la Dame Rose (1 time) and Le Petit Prince (3 times), take a quick quiz and complete various tasks related to the novel, and complete thirty minutes of practice per week over the course of the summer. Overall, students did two things: 1. Read the English version of the novel and/or didn't finish it; and 2. Completed the weekly practice (30mn) during the week before school resumed, therefore, fudging the time spent. At our school, students are already required to read a book for English class and two books for a summer reading group. I've decided to stop adding books to that list, especially since Novice High/Advanced Low language learners generally need immediate guidance when taking on a novel.

Focus on the Interpretive Texts
While all areas of the AP French exam, including the communicative performance sections, present challenges, the most difficult one for my learners has been the interpretive sections with multiple-choice questions. This year, I decided to focus the summer practice on that task and have done so with a personalized approach. As you'll see on the document, readers are asked to choose articles of interest from various news sources and complete the related task with answers in English. Students must seek the answer to the 5Ws while also considering cultural information. My hope is that it will become more automatic to seek out this type of information by the time we see each other again in August. If you're wondering why they are writing in English, it's because the goal is for students to interpret what they read -- not produce more language and possibly not interpret the material adequately due to the proficiency level or other factors.  

A Little More Practice
Learners are also asked to watch a French film for fun and be ready to discuss it in an informal manner.  The listening component of the exam is challenging, to say the least, so even if students read subtitles via Netflix's streaming movies, they are still listening to native speakers. In fact, students often tell me that they try to compare the subtitles to the spoken French. 

Lastly, I ask students to listen to French music on their phones, but it is an optional task. Fingers crossed that I will hear about some newly discovered, Francophone bands when we meet in the classroom again!

The Resource
EDIT: For some reason, it's not showing up at the link below, so click here to be take directly to the page.
Click here to go to the "My Digital Footprint" page of my professional website. Once there, scroll down to the link to my (rather new) Scribd account and click on it. You'll have access to my downloads there. 

Final Questions for Readers
If you teach, or are preparing to teach, an AP world language course, what type of summer practice do your pre-APs complete? Which task proves to be the most helpful?

Please share your ideas and thoughts in the comments section of this post. Let's help each other improve our craft!

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